Looking at the odds for the 2018 Melbourne Cup (6th November, Flemington Park) provided by major sportsbooks has been giving punters quite the headache. The favorites, and that term should be used loosely as there is no real agreement among sportsbooks, have a wide odds differential, with some like Withhold offered at 8/1 (William Hill) right up to 14/1 (Bet365). That’s not an insignificant margin at the top end of a market for a race of this stature.
Of course, the Melbourne Cup joins other major international races in being fuelled by speculation and hype just as much as tangible evidence like fitness and form. One word from a top trainer like Aidan O’Brien or owner like Lloyd Williams and the markets can rise and fall. Matters aren’t helped by sportsbooks continuing to tout odds for horses that we know are definitely not running. Doncaster Cup winner Thomas Hobson, for example, is still available with several sportsbooks, even though it’s certain he won’t be in Australia. Kew Gardens, Flag of Honour, Max Dynamite and Torcedor are also not heading for Melbourne.
Magic Circle tops early betting
Magic Circle, Cross Counter and Withhold are the trio who have been most consistently backed in the run up to Australia’s biggest racing event. As mentioned, the odds have fluctuated and there is little agreement among sportsbooks, but you can find a best price of 12/1 for Magic Circle (Bet365), 14/1 for Cross Counter (Betfair) and 14/1 for Withhold (Bet365). It is worth remembering that favorites have struggled in the Melbourne Cup over the last few years, and we even saw a 100/1 winner with Prince of Penzance in 2015.
Godolphin seem to have a lot of faith in Cross Counter, who has looked in good shape this season despite missing out narrowly on the Great Voltigeur Stakes last month. Trainer Charlie Appleby was given the task of winning the Epson Derby and the Melbourne Cup by Godolphin. He achieved the former in June with Masar.
Hamada impressive in 2018
However, Appleby and Godolphin might have a better prospect on their hands in Hamada. The 4-year-old had a fairly decent 2016, missed 2017 and then bounced back with four wins this year, including a very impressive victory in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury in September. Hamada is one of the few horses that sportsbooks seem to agree on, coming in at odds of 16/1 with several major outlets. There are questions of course, but the whispers coming from Godolphin suggest a quiet confidence.
There are certainly others in the market who offer value, including Kings Will Dream (20/1) and Homesman (25/1, Ladbrokes), but it is recommended to check out the Melbourne Cup best free bets and promotions offered to make sure you get maximum value. Indeed, with such a large list of potential runners ultimately whittled down to a maximum of 24, ensure that your sportsbook is offering refunded stakes for non-runners at the Melbourne Cup.
Indeed, if you are thinking about taking an early punt to get some value, it might be worth looking at Patrick Erin, Idaho or Rostropovich, all of whom are available at odds of 60/1 or greater with Ladbrokes. Handicapping and age aside, there is not always a lot of ‘science’ that can be applied to picking a Melbourne Cup winner, so snapping up some of those big prices early on might be well worth it.